Laughter and squeals abound as water balloons fly through the air.
The traditional water balloon fight of summer camp comes to an end with a not-so-traditional announcement:
“Time to muck out the stalls and feed the horses.”
Everyone stoops over to grab cowboy hats strewn across the pavement and clomps their way to the barn.
Journey to the Cross Rodeo Bible Camp in Garden City, Kansas, does just what the title suggests, mixing two traditions — church camp and rodeo — into one experience.
The camp began 12 years ago on Randy Fisher’s ranch with 12 campers and a few volunteers from the Journey to the Cross cowboy church/Christian fellowship. Now it meets on Garden City’s rodeo grounds and uses the local college’s facilities. It averages 80 students from five states per year and nearly 40 counselors.
“Our goal in the beginning was just to show Jesus in us,” Fisher says. “We had three passions: Christ, kids and cowboying. So we put them together in this camp.”
Campers sign up for teams to learn a rodeo event like bull riding, barrel racing, horseless horseman, pole bending, goat tying or cutting.
Each event team includes counselors who have often competed either in college or the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association as well as a spiritual counselor to lead Bible studies and spiritual growth.
Lakin Getz, an eighth-grader from Quinter, Kansas, had no idea there was such a thing as “rodeo Bible camp” until this year.
‘Love of Christ’
“It’s great,” he says. “We have fun with friends and practice our rodeo events. The best part is that we do it all with the love of Christ.”
Getz signed up to learn chute dogging. This is similar to steer wrestling but cowboys start out in the chute with the steer.
When the gate opens Getz already has it by the horns as the steer tries to make an escape. A counselor holds the tail taut to keep the animal from getting too wild. Getz sets his feet wide and yanks back, bringing the steer down to the ground.
While pulling down the steer was a rush, Getz quickly points out that’s not the best thing he’s learned at camp.
“I’ve learned how to talk to God and get closer to Him,” he says as other chute doggers nod their agreement. “We are learning to be cowboys who serve Christ.” (BP)
How to pray
- Pray the campers participating in the Journey to the Cross Rodeo Bible Camp will come to know Jesus through the ministry.
- Pray this ministry will continue to grow and flourish and that more ministries like it will be created. (TAB)